Holy See upholds confessional seal in response to Australian royal commission

Catholic News Agency

September 6, 2020

The Australian bishops have provided the federal government with the Holy See’s observations on 12 recommendations of a 2017 report on child sex abuse in the country’s institutions.

In response to a recommendation regarding the seal of confession and absolution, the Holy See reiterated the inviolability of the seal and that absolution cannot be conditioned on future actions in the external forum.

“The Holy See affirms once more its resolute determination to confront and eradicate the abuse of minors and vulnerable persons, wherever it may occur in the Church,” read the Holy See’s observations, which were enclosed in a letter of Feb. 26.

The Holy See’s observations were conveyed to the Australian bishops’ conference, which in turn sent them to the Attorney-General for Australia, and referred to in a Sept. 4 statement from the conference.

“The Pope has sought to promote reform and vigilance at all levels within the Church and to encourage the efforts of local Churches in the same direction. That commitment has led to the adoption … of a wide range of measures, designed to ensure a proper response to such cases, including at the canonical level, as well as encouraging cooperation with civil authorities,” the observations note.

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